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Each quarter we do our best to provide you with an update on any Smilers related information, news snippets and anything else we think you might be interested in!  Full details of all new issues will appear under the New Issues menu option.

Earlier News Reports (e.g. Q1-18) are provided in Adobe Acrobat pdf file format and are generally available during the first couple of weeks following the preceding quarter. Click on this link News Archive to go to the Smilers News Archive page.


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Q1- Q2  2019

  • 60th Anniversary of Jersey Zoo   

    Jersey Post have announced the planned issue on the 28th April 2019 of a commemorative sheet celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Jersey Zoo. 

    Jersey Zoo is operated by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and the Jersey Post Commemorative Sheet is made up of twenty Jersey Flag, UK Letter stamps adjoined to labels. The labels feature images of author and naturalist Gerald Durrell, together with several species found at Jersey Zoo. 

    We would be pleased to supply this sheet after the 28th April 2019 priced at £25.00 + £1.50 p+p.  As usual, please e-mail me in the first instance to reserve your copy. Limited stocks available. (24/04)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 4   

    The next example of Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day comes from the Buckingham stable and is a sheet that would have seen the light of day were it not for the intervention of the Palace!

    Tony Buckingham and his crew met stiff opposition from the Palace when he and his team proposed to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Abdication of King Edward VIII planned for 2012.  The "Dear John" letter from the Palace seems to sum it up. (24/04))

  • Victoria Line 50th Anniversary   

    ... and now for something completely different!  

    In 2013 Royal Mail issued a Mini Sheet celebrating Underground Posters Art as part of their 150th Anniversary of the London Underground issue.  One of the stamps within the mini sheet (87p) featured a poster of the opening of the Victoria Line in 1969 and this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Victoria Line - hardly possible for those of us who can remember it opening!

    Given the existence of this stamp and to mark this event, I have produced a commemorative special-hand stamp cover featuring this stamp,  primarily for all the railway enthusiasts who are suffering withdrawal symptoms at the demise of the multitude of railway inspired Smilers sheets from the stables of Benham, Buckingham and Bradbury!! Enjoy....  

    A limited quantity of only 20 covers were produced as an initial trial to gauge interest in such collectibles,  which I know should be popular with thematic collectors.  Just click on the above image to link to my eBay shop and purchase directly through eBay. If you don't have an eBay account just e-mail with your requirements. (16/03)

  • Spiderman and BA100   

    We at Ridgewood are delighted to announce an innovation in Customised Stamp sheets.  With the demise of the Royal Mail Business Customised service in mid-2018 we have been left with a very few STAMPEX sheets remaining before we draw a veil over this chapter of customised stamp sheet collecting. Or so we thought!

    The arrival of the 150th Anniversary of St Pancras Customised Stamp Pack last November, a product devised by Heritage Media Ltd. for St. Pancras Station's 150th Anniversary celebrations, got us thinking.  What if we could breathe new life in to some of the old Smilers sheets that exist and perhaps create new collectible items of interest for Smilers collectors?  

    Our first product along these lines is a souvenir Smilers cover out tomorrow timed to coincide with Royal Mail's Heroes and Defenders issue.  We have produced a limited number of Smilers covers (25) bearing a pair of 16 year- old Smilers stamps/labels  which, hopefully you will agree, has breathed new life in to the stamps/labels.

     

    Click on the image to buy this cover from our eBay shop (priced £5.95 +pp) or alternatively drop me an e-mail with your requirements. We can supply a complete set of 5 covers with all stamp/label combinations from the sheet for £25 incl. p+p.

    Other products are available as you will see in our eBay shop based on Royal Mail's Heroes and Defenders/Marvel issue, and here's just one we thought worked really well.

    Finally, we are very pleased to announce the arrival of our BA 100 project

    In this the centenary year of British Airways we can only imagine the number and variety of Customised Smilers sheets that may have appeared from the Benham, Bradbury, Buckingham, Westminster stables had Royal Mail  not terminated the customised stamp sheet service last year.  And them we remembered our 90th Anniversary sheet issued 10 years ago and we started thinking, what if ... 

    ... and here it is:

     

    We have produced a limited edition of 50 Customised Smilers Packs featuring a fitting tribute design for British Airways centenary year, backed up by a uniquely numbered information card outlining the history of this great airline all delivered in a sealed pack and available for purchase immediately from our e-commerce website. Just click on either image above to be transported as if by magic to our e-shop, or alternatively drop me an e-mail with your requirements. (14/03)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 3   

    Here is my next installment of some of the Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day. This time it's an example of an Adrian Bradbury design that failed to materialize. It was to be the first in a series of sheets by Adrian featuring British Books but in the end Adrian dropped the idea in favour of his History of Britain series. Shame! (12/03)

  • Universal Mail Update   

    To all those interested in Universal Mail UK Strips, my apologies for the long silence since the last update, but it's been quite an uphill battle to nail down details surrounding  the latest new issues!  That said, there is light at the end of the tunnel based on additional information forthcoming from Universal Mail UK who have been very helpful recently in tracking down this missing information.  Whilst not fully complete I have made progress and I feel the time is right to share this with you.  

    I have updated my catalogue of these issue as at end of February 2019 and am now trying to track down the following:

    There was a printing in 05/18 but UMUK didnít have any stocks left of the following:

    • 05/18 UK0020 Scotland 
    • 05/18 UK0041 Sussex 
    • 05/18 UK0051 Cambridge 
    • 05/18 UK0057 Animals of Scotland 
    • 05/18 UK0058 Scottish Icons 
    • 05/18 UK0062 Inverness 
    • 05/18 UK0063 Isle of Sky 
    • 05/18 UK0104 Dorset

    Then there are the Bespoke issues UMUK alerted me to but can't supply.

    • 05/18 UK0076 Beatles 
    • 05/18 UK0126 Madame Tussauds 
    • 05/18 UK0162 Alnwick Castle 
    • 05/18 UK0167 Dunvegan Castle 
    • 05/18 UK0168 Tate Museum
    • 09/18 UK0030 Historic Scotland Stirling 
    • 09/18 UK0036 Historic Scotland Central 
    • 09/18 UK0038 Historic Scotland North 
    • 09/18 UK0068 Giantís Causeway 
    • 09/18 UK0070 Roman Baths 
    • 09/18 UK0072 St Pauls Cathedral 
    • 09/18 UK0076 Beatles 
    • 09/18 UK0077 Visit Oxfordshire 
    • 09/18 UK0123 Titanic 
    • 09/18 UK0148 House of Commons 
    • 09/18 UK0153 Tower Bridge Exhibition 
    • 09/18 UK0162 Alnwick Castle 
    • ??/??  UK0166 London Icons with £1.50 denomination
    • 09/18 UK0167 Dunvegan Castle 
    • 09/18 UK0168 Tate Museum 
    • UK0169 - Gap
    • UK0170 - Gap
    • UK0171 - Gap
    • UK0172 - Gap
    • UK0173 - Gap
    • UK0174 - Gap
    • UK0175 - Gap
    • UK0176 - Gap
    • UK0177 - Gap
    • UK0178 - Gap
    • UK0179 - Gap
    • UK0180 Westminster Abbey 
    • UK0182 Marble Arch Caves 
    • UK0183 - Gap
    • UK0184 Ė this code apparently does not exist according to UMUK
    • 09/18 UK0185 Green Welly Shop 
    • 09/18 UK0186 Jane Austen House Museum
    • 09/18 UK0187 National Gallery Museum (Monet) 
    • 09/18 UK0188 Science Museum  
    • 09/18 UK0189 Body Worlds

    When I contacted some of the above Bespoke outlets they could not supply them to me because UMUK had yet to supply them!  

    A conundrum for me in that UMUK would not supply  Bespoke strips to me and the Bespoke Outlet could not supply me. I am therefore trying to resolve these gaps and omissions with Universal Mail as I write and I am hopeful that these can be sorted out before the end of the month.  Universal Mail have already altered me to further re-prints and new issues in the process of being printed so it would be good to get these put to bed before the latest batch are released. (12/03)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 2   

    Continuing my short series of Royal Mail Smilers projects that never saw the light of day, here's one from Bletchley Park Post Office which was floated in 2009 to mark Andrew Strauss benefit year but ran into licensing problems and like some others had to be shelved! (26/02)

  • Smilers Programme 2019 

    Royal Mail have provided further insight to their stamp issuing programme for 2019 at a Trade briefing held recently at Spring Stampex.  Most of the following will, by now, be old news but for those of you who don't spend their life thinking about Royal Mail's next issue, here is a brief summary of what we know today.

    • 5 January: Stamp Classics 
    • 13 February: Leonardo Da Vinci 
    • 14 March: Marvel Comics (*Smilers sheet announced*)
    • 19 March : 2019 Tariff Change Definitive and Regional stamps
    • 4 April: Birds of Prey 
    • 2 May: British Engineering 
    • 24 May: Queen Victoria Bicentenary 
    • 29 May : TBC 
    • 6 June: D-Day 
    • 9 July: Curious Customs 
    • 13 Aug: Forests 
    • 19 Sept: Royal Navy Ships 
    • October - TBC 
    • 5 Nov: Christmas 
    • ?? November - TBC 

    Whilst there is still secrecy surrounding most issues (notably May, October and November) and images and products descriptions for most of the above are not yet available, I can confirm that there is interest in this list for us Smilers sheet Collectors in 2019 who should pay close attention to issues in March (Marvel Comics), May, November and December (Christmas) and possibly in late November we might even see a Year of the Rat sheet - more later! (26/02)

  • Smilers that failed to Smile # 1   

    As you may have guessed by the longevity of this website blog, I just love Smilers and the stories that surround them.  I started this website over 10 years ago with help from like minded individuals and we have managed to keep it going through feast and famine.   Now that Royal Mail have pulled the plug on Business Customised Sheets and personalised Smilers the news columns seem a bit thin on new stuff to me.  In an effort  to brighten up the column I am turning to some old stories and hopefully these may stimulate collector interest into this area of stamp collecting. 

    The stories behind the production of these sheets can be quote interesting and some of these have been captured either in the Smilers catalogue or in this column in the past.  But what of the sheets that never made it?  Not a huge number failed but nevertheless some have interesting stories and some are just nice to look at and to think of what might have been!  I have therefore decided to feature a few designs from time to time for the enjoyment of my blog readers.

    Here's a very early design from The Stamp Centre for a sheet based on the 1960's TV series The Prisoner which stared Patrick McGoohan.  It ran into licensing problems and in the end Steven Scott dropped the design in favour of a series of Dr. Who sheets, what a great decision that turned out to be! (21/02)

        

  • Marvel-Less Smilers    

    As hinted at earlier, Royal Mail have now brought forward their official launch date for the mega Film/TV themed issue planned for March to today and have announced a set of stamps and collectibles (far too long for me to list them all) based on the theme - Marvel Comics.  There are stamps, retail booklets, prestige booklets, limited edition prestige booklets, first day covers, presentation packs, framed sheets, more covers but no comics I am reliably informed.

    More specifically, RM have confirmed plans to issue a Generic Stamp Sheet on 14th March 2019 comprising 10 stamps and labels although, I have to confess, I am not sure which are the stamps and which are the labels!!

     

    I get it that it is supposed to look like a comic and I guess to that end they have succeeded. However I would have thought that some enterprising individual or other might overprint the labels with the Queen's head and a "1st" value and use them as postage thus halving the cost of a 1st class stamp!  I am sure some Royal Mail operatives would have difficultly differentiating the real stamps from the overprinted labels.  What an ignominious design this is - Royal Mail have definitely lost the plot and now cannot, it seems, differentiate between stamps of the realm and comic labels!  (19/02) 

  • A Marvelous Start to 2019    

    Royal Mail's 2019 stamp programme has been officially announced and an issue scheduled for March is under strict secrecy until it's official launch on 21st February 2019.  

    What I know is that it is another mega Film/TV theme based issue with lots of products and variations for the collecting community.  Of particular interest to us here at Smilers-Info is the news that there will be at least one 10-stamp generic Smilers sheet featuring these new stamps with additional imagery on the labels and backgrounds. The TV/Film theme has not been announced to the Philatelic Trade but rumors abound with some even claiming to have seen these new stamps at local post offices. However, I am sure we shall all marvel at the designs and collectibles when these are officially announced next week! (16/02) 

  • The Bear Facts!    

    A regular to these columns contacted me yesterday with news of an apparent "new find" based on the Paddington Bear generic sheet from 2006 (GS-030).

    In an e-mail to me I was asked if I was aware of ....

    ".... a newly discovered Paddington Bear Sheet which had a printing of 200 Sheets although 190 were used for postage leaving 10 available to Collectors. Every Label is over-printed with the Anniversary and there are additional 'bear paw' footsteps and information."

    My response was concise and to the point -No!

    I did provide the contributor with my opinion which I will share with readers (see below). However a little more by way of context was added by another reader earlier today who advised me that these sheets (3 of them) had been sold on eBay for an undisclosed amount but that they had originally been offered by eBay seller BFDC1947 from Leicester (Rings a bell!) for £200.00 each!  An amazing mark- up on sheet that originally cost less than £7.00!  Click on the image above to see the completed eBay listing and form your own opinion. 

    In my humble opinion for what it's worth - frankly I donít believe a word of it. Someone  is trying to pass on a number of overprinted generic sheets and make some easy money with a questionable story.  If 190 sheets were used for postage then you would expect at least one of the 3800 stamps to turn up on ebay in kiloware!  Sorry, but I won't be  buying it, listing it and I certainly don't buy the story! I suggest you do the same. Caveat Emptor!! (16/02)

  • Happy Chinese New Year    

    A belated Happy Chinese New Year for yesterday and I hope all my readers have a great year! As reported earlier, I have produced a Themed Smilers sheet and Commemorative Cover and both are now in stock and available for purchase.  Both items are in my eBay shop so please take a look at the various selection of themed Smilers sheets and covers on offer, which may differ from my routine stock. Here's the cover I have produced to welcome in the Year of the Pig. (06/02)

  • Halley's Comet 00001     

    Mark Brandon has been in touch to let me know about a rather unique Commemorative Stamp Sheet Pack from Royal Mail.  The Halley's Comet Commemorative Stamp Pack was issued in May 2010, just in time for London 2010, and as these were still in their infancy Royal Mail numbered these individually, a practice that has since evaporated in recent years!

    Mark Brandon has advised that a sheet with Serial Number 00001 is available to purchase from him priced £750.00 and if interested readers are requested to make contact with Mark by e-mailing him at: mark@regalstamps.co.uk (06/02)  

  • Kettering Stamp & Philatelic Society    

    RM, an eagle-eyed contributor to this column, spotted a hitherto unseen Smilers item on eBay earlier today and gave me a call to alert me to the find, for which I am very grateful. It has allowed me to share the following rare snippet of Smilers news. 

    The Kettering Stamp & Philatelic Society celebrate their 20th Anniversary this year and have produced a presentation pack featuring two personalised Smilers stamps.

    The club originally planned to do a pack to be given free to all of their members as a thank-you along with a selection of covers and generic sheets to sell, to raise funds for the club. Two sheets of both the Penny Red and Penny Black Smilers stamps were produced initially last year for committee review and approval. However when the Club decided to order a further 30 sheets of each Royal Mail had stopped accepting new orders.  As a result they decided to produce 20 Presentation Packs containing one of each stamp and tab, 20 years so 20 packs at £20 each to raise funds for the club.

    The club also produced 10 souvenir covers of each design with a local Kettering postmark, although I understand there are very few of these left.

    Finally, the club also made available a small quantity of single Smilers stamps sold in plastic bags as follows.

     

    The presentation packs are priced at £20 each, the covers are priced at £3 each and the single stamps are priced at £2.50 all of which are available from the club whilst stocks last.  If interested please e-mail James Dickinson in the first instance (click on link) who will confirm pricing and availability. (20/01)

  • Lunar New Year - Year of the Pig Themed Smilers Sheet    

    Following on from the past couple of years I have produced a limited edition themed sheet commemorating the Lunar New Year, Year of the Pig. As with last year I hope to produce a First Day Cover in February using these Smilers stamps/labels but that will be dependant on the availability  of a suitable special hand-stamp marking the event, details of which have yet to be announced, more later.  For those interested in collecting the sheet here it is!

    TS-572

    As with the previous item I have a very few sheets available for purchase priced £39.95 each including p+p, and again due to limited availability I am offering these on a first come, first served basis. If interested please send me an e-mail to confirm your interest. (12/01) 

  • Isle of Pabay Winter 2018 - Themed Smilers Sheet    

    The Isle of Pabay Themed Smilers sheet for 2018 is out and this year it features an image used for an Isle of Pabay 75p local stamp.

    TS-571

    With a change in Royal Mail's policy this year increasing the minimum order number of personalised themed sheets to c. 40 we believe, it may well be the last themed sheet from Isle of Pabay folks, let's hope that Royal Mail relax this policy going forward. 

    The interesting thing about this sheet is that Royal Mail have reverted to stocks of Glorious Scotland with the Rampant Lion stamp rather than the Saltire flag which appeared unannounced a couple of years back.  Could it be that Royal Mail stocks are being wound down by Royal Mail and as soon as they have been used up,  that will trigger the end of the personalised formats? Only time will tell!

    I have a very few sheets available for purchase priced £49.95 each including p+p, as usual due to limited availability I am offering these on a first come, first served basis. If interested please send me an e-mail to confirm your interest. (12/01) 

  • Spring STAMPEX Smilers announced    

    As the delights of Christmas gently recede into our memories for yet another year it's time to look forward to 2019 and all the delights that the year holds!  The PTS have  announced their forthcoming Spring STAMPEX exhibition Business Customised Smilers sheet which will be available for purchase from the Spring STAMPEX event, to be held as usual at the Business Design Centre 52 Upper Street, London, N1 0QH, during the period 13-16 February 2019.   

     

    This years theme is classic stamps of the world, to coincide with Royal Mail's classic British Stamps issue in January.  I am sure you will join me in complementing the PTS for the foresight to order these before Royal Mail closed the Business Customised Stamp service in 2018.   We will be stocking these sheets priced £21.95 incl. p+p (UK) £25.00 (worldwide) so if interested please e-mail your requirements. (27/12)

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                                    Last updated: April 24, 2019